Hi, I'm Laura.
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The city of Sydney lives in denial of winter. The look of surprise on all our faces when the June wind starts to bite is almost comic. Our housing is largely unheated. Our clothing has laughable thermal qualities. But we are a sunburnt country… we mutter in increasing despair as winter sinks its teeth, and we huddle in coats and blankets before our dicky little column heaters wondering how every year the universe manages to make such a terrible mistake. We wait—not stoically I must add, but wallowing in shock and misery—until our planet corrects it cruel misalignment, and the prodigal warmth begins its blessed return home.
It starts in August. The jasmine vines erupt in flower, doing their best to imitate the bulbous extravagance of an eighties wedding gown as they festoon our fences. And there is always that one day, when the sky is the epitome of blue, and the wind, the wind isn’t blusterous, rollicking, cold, or assuming—no, no, the wind is soft, lush with the sweetness of the jasmine, and has a lick of sun-kissed warmth. And you can feel the defrosting of the marrow in your bones, and a fizzing, a bubbling within the same intangible organ which brews the chemistry of new love—the effervescence of hope.
Spring is coming, summer will follow—the new creation promise in blueprint.
“She asked how we see God,” says a lovely friend as we watch our happy pre-schoolers potter around my winter-burnt grass, drenched in August sunshine. “I talked about the wind,” she adds as I marvel that her three-year-old has arrived at this question. How do we see God? I feel at a loss to give anyone, let alone a little child, a concise and satisfactory answer. I take a sip of my tea; the dregs are sadly cold.
How do we see God? There is such weight to this wondering. How do I see God? How is God seen? Do not all of us who desire to know God—to be in commune with God—grapple with this question? What for you verifies the existence of this immaterial being? How do you centre your life on actively loving and being loved by someone who cannot partake in a hug, give a reply in a conversation, receive a cup from your hands, or anything tangible?
Of course there are a thousand answers, but to speak them seems as impossible as condensing global history into a one page, or undoing Gordian’s knot, or neatly defining the word love, or naming the colour you see when you close your eyes in daylight.
Shall I try? I see God in creation: glorious, beautiful, complex, wild, ordered, knowable, and unfathomable. I see God in the unfolding of salvation history: persistent, jealous, ingenious, gracious, gregarious, smitten, and relentless. I see God in Jesus. I see God in my homesick heartache for the better promised. I see God in the unfolding of the new creation, now blossoming across the globe through the lives of all spirit-filled believers.
Yes, God is like the wind—wind gentle, wind blusterous, wind cold, and wind warm. Wind invisible, and wind undeniable—a pulsing presence ever untameable.
And faith, faith is to lean into all this seeing, to coil our tendrils around every fingerprint of God given, from the whispers to the infallible, and to dance with God in every season, until he is symbiotic with our very being.
We dance until carried home to the new Eden.
But how do we teach this to our children? Do you fear that for all your teaching and instructing, they will never see, never step forward into this dance, never say yes to God’s hand when offered? It is not hard to understand why the Israelites turned to carved idols. So much simpler to be able to see your god, to be assured that if you made a sacrifice, you had earned a blessing—so much harder to learn how to be graciously loved by a God who is beyond our imaginations, too big for our eyes.
But if faith wasn’t a struggle would we grow roots sturdy enough to last? I have read it is best not to water your lawn every day, as then the roots don’t bother to go deep, and so will not endure any water shortage or extreme heat. God walked with Eve and Adam, yet their love was fickle. Perhaps we need God to be somewhat of a mystery to entice us pursue him, perhaps true love is only birthed within a journey.
We can’t physically put our children’s hands inside God’s and lean back in relief that the connection is sealed. We cannot submit a form to apply for their entry into God’s people (but then again, we can’t do this with any of their friendships).
We can make sure they see us dance—see us delight in being loved by God, hear us speak of salvation history, watch us lament at brokenness and hope regardless, experience us strive to bring beauty to dark places.
Think your faith is too sloppy to be worthy of witness?
Ever danced wild and joyous at a friend’s wedding?
Who on this dance floor cared about perfection?
Faith is a passionate celebration of togetherness.
The flowers on my jasmine are now tatty and browning. My jonquils are already dead. August has turned cold again and the wind is rowdy and unpleasant. Watching the news it is easy to believe that our world is broken, but difficult to fathom that God is still in love with us and intimately involved in our saving. I am frustrated with my own insufficiencies when it comes to resembling Christ-likeness. I despair at all the pettiness and posturing within the Church, at the cost of the messy work of everyday unglamorous sacrificial loving. We do not appear at all a fitting vessel through which God will bring light to our children, let alone every tribe and nation.
Yet we are.
We are the bride God asked to dance.
So dance. Dance joy and dance sorrow. Dance with God through every season. And don’t journey alone. God’s people were built for togetherness. And think how quickly a small group of unashamed dancers tempts everyone else onto the dance floor.
What metaphor best gives shape to your communion with God?
How do you make visible this invisible connection?
Perhaps you’ll inspire me to write a story about it!
Stay warm sweet friends.